Texas State tennis doubles pairing of Rishona Lewis and Hana Kvapilova had a spectacular spring 2020 campaign prior to the Sun Belt Conference canceling all conference matches.
Both were tied for the best doubles record in the Sun Belt at 6-1. With such a positive record and being just days away from conference play, Kvapilova was disappointed to see the season end prematurely.
“We looked forward to continuing that and win more matches,” Kvapilova said. “I was really confident about our doubles. I was looking forward to play more with [Lewis]. It was sad [the season] finished like that.”
Ranked No. 62 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), they also became the first nationally-ranked doubles pairing in program history. Both Kvapilova and Lewis were shocked when they heard about the ranking.
“I had no idea that we would have been the first people to ever [be ranked],” Lewis said. “That kind of made it even sweeter. Just knowing that we’re capable of achieving that is pretty cool.”
Lewis and Kvapilova were quickly able to build on-court rapport with each other. Head Coach Tory Plunkett credits Kvapilova and Lewis’ success to the amount of trust they have in each other.
“If one’s not playing well, the other one says, ‘It’s okay, I’ll be able to hold it up until you start playing well,’” Plunkett said. “They’ve done that both ways. There have been times where [Kvapilova] wasn’t playing well and [Lewis] picked it up. Then there were times where [Lewis] wasn’t playing well and [Kvapilova] picked it up...They’re going to do whatever it takes to win.”
The Bobcats began their fall campaign Oct. 16-18 at the Texas A&M Invitational. On day one of the tournament, Kvapilova and Lewis faced Texas A&M’s top doubles pairing of freshman Jessica Anzo and sophomore Lucia Quiterio.
After going down 5-2, the pair mounted a comeback to win the match 7-5. It turned out to be their last win of the fall season.
Texas State was originally slated to play a doubleheader against Lamar on Nov. 7, but the match was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols. The abrupt cancellation marked the end of the Bobcats’ already shortened fall season.
Despite this, both Kvapilova and Lewis are still grateful to have had the opportunity to play.
“It’s pretty awesome that we were able to play, and we are still practicing,” Kvapilova said. “A lot of schools canceled their programs or they’re just not playing at all.”
Heading into the spring, Kvapilova and Lewis want to increase their ranking, but their mindset is team-oriented.
“[Lewis and Kvapilova] would rather win a team championship than go to the NCAA championships on an individual basis,” Plunkett said. “They’d rather see a conference championship... They're our best players and good kids [who] I trust 100% to lead this team. It’s been nice because I can kind of sit back and just do the coaching part of it...We got a good team. We haven’t had that in a while and these two are leading the way.”
Lewis and her teammates are making the best of a less than ideal situation.
“We’re always joking or laughing about something," Lewis said. "Everybody is comfortable with each other...It’s just a good team environment, overall. It’s the best I’ve felt in a few years.”
Texas State will begin its spring season against Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 5.